We en­joy the 280CE and put it fully to the test

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Driving -


The W114’s su­perb build qual­ity makes it a de­light­ful com­pan­ion on day-to-day du­ties – it feels less frag­ile and more mod­ern than its 1970s con­tem­po­raries, and a well-looked af­ter ex­am­ple should be more than ca­pa­ble of han­dling the tasks you throw in its di­rec­tion. De­spite the lower roofline and more sub­stan­tial C-pil­lar, visibility is very good all round, the power steer­ing and sup­ple sus­pen­sion make easy work of town du­ties and the longer doors mean that you don’t have to be an es­cape artist to exit the rear seats.


There’s plenty of space un­der the bon­net, which makes things eas­ier to work on and Mercedes-Benz of­fers some of the clas­sic car world’s best parts sup­port, so sourc­ing items shouldn’t be too tricky. The W114 (and its four-cylin­der W115 sib­ling) is well known for longevity, but the trick is to buy the most solid car you can af­ford and keep on top of its body­work and me­chan­i­cals, rather than go­ing down the po­ten­tially ru­inous night­mare of try­ing to res­cue a se­ri­ously cor­roded ex­am­ple.


The Mercedes-Benz Club should be your first port of call – it’s a reg­u­lar at most of Bri­tain’s clas­sic shows, in­clud­ing the Clas­sics at the Cas­tle show in Bodel­wyd­dan, North Wales later this month. The W114’s tax-ex­empt sta­tus means that it’ll be waved through the gates at most shows, and it would be a breath of fresh air next to all those MGBs and Jaguars. It would also be per­fect for the Good­wood Re­vival later this year– it’s el­i­gi­ble for the ‘Over The Road’ show for vis­i­tors’ clas­sics, and there’s more than enough room in­side for any pe­ri­odthemed clob­ber and ac­ces­sories.


The am­ple re­serves of torque from the straight­six, the smooth and ef­fort­less three-speed auto and the com­fort­ing ride make this a nat­u­ral for epic voy­ages, whether it’s to the far reaches of the Bri­tish Isles or to the south of France. There’s plenty of room for four adults – even with the low­ered roofline – and enough space in the boot to carry a gen­er­ous stash of suit­cases. You needn’t worry if you need to take even more lug­gage, ei­ther; the chromed roof rails on the two-door dou­ble up as mount­ing points for a pe­riod roof rack.

5 THE B-ROAD Blast

Point-and-squirt hero­ics aren’t re­ally the W114’s thing, but once you’re used to its gen­tle de­meanour it can be hus­tled along the back roads quite ef­fec­tively. Let the sup­ple sus­pen­sion and power-as­sisted steer­ing – both of which are set up for com­fort rather than agility or feed­back – take the strain and the 280CE is happy to cruise through the bends. If you want a road where it’ll im­press you, though, you’re much likely to en­joy it on a sweep­ing A-road or dual car­riage­way.

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